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From My Favorite Pianists series, Op. 1

marthe2I am a big fan of 88.3 KPAC Classical Radio Station. Every time I drive, I turn it on with the anticipation of hearing something spectacular. If I hear piano playing with enormous expressiveness, I know…this is Martha. If the piano music sounds like there are a few good men playing simultaneously on many pianos…this is Martha.

The name of Martha Argerich on any label always means fire, as it does here:

Record Review / Gramophone Awards Issue (London) / 01 January 1987
Argerich continues to astonish . . . Argerich plays with the blend of immaculate tone, bravura technique and temperament that have placed her at the pianistic peak . . . a scintillating performance . . . This superb disc is a masterful account.
Record Review / Robert Baxter, Courier-Post (Cherry Hill) / 16 January 2005

In this day and age, classical piano has become sort of a sports-like achievement journey. Every kid in every family that values education plays the piano… just for the sake of it. There is an army of strong and fabulous piano players of all ages flooding into the piano world, from oriental and eastern European child prodigies to well-seasoned performing artists with great careers.

So what makes me recognize and admire Martha every time I am fortunate enough to catch her performance on 88.3? If I had to summarize my answer in a few words, it would be: expressiveness and clarity of music thought (not necessarily human strength and astonishing technique). Her range of dynamics does not fit the standard of classical piano performance: her forte is sometimes more than forte, like an angry scream, and her pianos are so intimate that it feels like the moment gets frozen in time.

Martha Argerich was born in Buenos Aires. From the age of five, she took piano lessons with Vicenzo Scaramuzza. In 1955 she went to Europe with her family, and received tuition from Friedrich Gulda in Vienna; her teachers also included Nikita Magaloff and Stefan Askenase. Following her first prizes in the piano competitions in Bolzano and Geneva in 1957, she embarked on an intensive program of concerts. Her victory in the Chopin Competition in Warsaw in 1965 was a decisive step on her path to worldwide recognition.

If you read this blog and you like music – especially piano – check her out. She will blow your mind! Unfortunately, I have never heard her play live. I hear that she is famous for not liking to schedule things ahead of time and really does not like the business side of her astonishing performing career (I have my secret sources).

I turned on KPAC in the car and was blown away by Chopin Scherzo no. 4 sounding like it was being performed by some kind of superman. I knew at once it was Martha Argerich! I am glad she exists!

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